Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo Review

In the most recent string of Square Enix’s already-packed release lineup, PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is an exciting project to release in the current era. Visual novels are far from the once-popular medium they were years ago but as a huge fan of visual novels in general and given Square Enix’s history with the medium I was intrigued nonetheless. Excitingly enough, I was given early access to Paranormasight and after finishing the main story as well as its side content, I’m glad to say not only is it among the best of Square Enix’s recent releases but also a fresh and satisfying visual novel experience that both fans and newcomers to the genre can enjoy.

Paranormasight is helmed by veteran director-writer Takanari Ishiyama, whose work on smaller projects such as Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings overshadows his long history of developing and writing a multitude of visual novels for the mobile medium. Needless to say, even if that has a negative connotation for you given the reputation of mobile entertainment in the modern era, fear not. What’s presented here is an incredibly tightly written visual novel paced excellently even with all its supernatural mystery trappings. 

The story follows an ensemble cast ranging from an office worker to a senior detective to a highschooler as they investigate a series of mysterious supernatural events based on urban legends within their town that are said to culminate in a mysterious ritual known as “the Rite of Resurrection.” Although the cast does get fairly large by the end of it all, it’s never too overwhelming as the interconnected narrative structure allows players to experience events from multiple perspectives. These stories slowly layer upon each other creating new revelations each time and the most satisfying part of it all is that by having this approach Paranormasight dedicates itself to establishing its cast by giving each of them ample time to feel fully fleshed out with tangible motivations making it a much stronger and cohesive experience overall. 

If you’re wondering why I’m being vague, given the narrative-driven nature of visual novels, I highly recommend going into this visual novel blind as there are plenty of twists and turns that are satisfying at those moments. The story also does a great job of marking progression with smart puzzles that test those who read intently and as a result, unlocking clues or paying close attention to its tightly wound narrative can feel incredibly rewarding as a process. Outside of an enigmatic unlock requirement for a certain ending in particular, the game is largely great at pushing you toward the right direction for puzzle solutions without having to outright tell you initially.

Now you’re probably wondering, how does Paranormasight hold up compared to its contemporaries? As someone who’s gone through a lot of visual novels, I find a large amount of influence from other works that’s present here is justified because of the newer things that Paranormasight chooses to bring to the table as a response. For example, the character art by the talented Gen Kobayashi of The World Ends With You and NEO: The World Ends With You, is beautifully animated with distinct facial variations for sprites leading to some memorable faces and tense scenes. The 360° approach to background environments is also a great way of presenting environmental context as well as making finding clues all the more varied since most of the flavor text in the game never feels substanceless.

Another highlight of the game’s exploration segments is also the sound design! While there are a few jumpscares in here that may or may not annoy some, some of the best parts of Paranormasight are punctuated by how well the sound design plays into it. The atmosphere of Paranormasight is incredible given how much it resembles the era it takes place in and the feeling of exploring urban legends creates an incredibly homely vibe. When familiar environments suddenly feel hostile the dread is greatly amplified by some great sound work and many of the most memorable scenes in the novel are almost accompanied by stellar sound work. 

It’s also worth it to note that the soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal. From the main menu theme to the ending, Paranormasight has plenty of wonderfully varied and tonally consistent tracks that greatly enhance the reading experience and match the energy of certain sequences perfectly. This is all largely due to the fact that the soundtrack is done by Hidenori Iwasaki who’s done plenty of in-house work on a multitude of projects. While it is a soundtrack that is obviously limited by its budget to an extent the tracks are never repeated enough to feel like they lack variation throughout the story and their adeptness at matching the energy of certain scenes only helped strengthen their place within my memory.

While PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is a project I doubt many saw coming, I can’t help but be pleasantly surprised and enamored with how incredibly solid of a project it is. For a project like this to be considered in this day and age is one thing in and of itself but for it to be this innovative as well is such a good experience. Even if visual novels aren’t usually your thing, I’d personally love to see more projects like this be supported and possibly expanded on, so I highly encourage anyone remotely interested to give it a shot considering the price range it’s set at compared to the rest of the industry. Trust me on going into it blind, through the lack of voice acting and older medium of storytelling, the experience speaks for itself.

Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is out now on PC via Steam, Nintendo Switch, as well as Android and iOS devices.

Version Reviewed: PC (Steam)

Disclaimer: PC review code provided by the publisher Square Enix.

Opening Gameplay

About the Author

mits Mits is a Nova Crystallis contributor and lifelong Drakengard and Final Fantasy fan. In their free time, mits enjoys translating for various translation groups, discussing music, and collecting various un-localized Square Enix media like drama CDs and light novels.